Before You Convert Your Grill - Read This

First and foremost, we want to preface this article with, gas conversions should be performed by a licensed professional especially if you do not have experience working with gas. We know there are lots of do-it-yourselfers but gas is flammable and safety is always number one with us. 

Every day we get calls from customers asking for information about converting their grills to a different type of fuel. It’s not uncommon for people to need to convert their grills — there are plenty of reasons that may have led to such a decision. Sometimes you move to a home that no longer has the gas type of your grill, you inherit one or even you get a great deal on a grill and figure you will just convert it.

They may have believed they wanted a propane grill, but then got sick of buying propane tanks. Perhaps they moved to an area where natural gas is available. Or maybe they’ve decided that charcoal briquettes are their preferred grill fuel.

Whatever the reason, converting your grill to a different energy source is almost always more affordable than purchasing a new grill altogether especially if you made an investment in a built-in grill.

If you purchased the grill from us initially, the chances are good that it’s in pretty good shape — the grills we sell are made with high quality materials. If you’ve been taking good care of your grill, it can be used for decades therefore converting the grill makes sense.

Many people call us telling us they need a propane orifice. We want to explain a bit here about them. Orifices are NOT created equal. There is not one propane orifice for all grills just as there is not one natural gas orifice. They are not one size fits all. It would be like saying there is one size gas tank will fit all vehicles.

Orifices come in different shapes, sizes, diameters, thread patterns as well as the hole sizes vary by the BTU of the grill. Not all grills have the same BTU’s. In fact, grills will even have different BTU’s and orifices for the different burners. For example, in most cases, your main burners will have a different BTU rating than the Rotisserie Backburner and Side Burners (if the grill is equipped with them). They may even be different shape and diameter. 

Weber uses different orifices in the Genesis, Summit and Spirit Grills. This is because they all use different valves and these valves have different diameters and thread patters. So even within a manufacturer there is not one orifice. 

We do want to note that not all grill manufacturers allow converting of their grills and not all grill conversion kits are readily available. Converting a grill is manufacturer and model specific. You cannot purchase a conversion kit for Brand A and use it on Brand B. This is because the BTU’s of the grill and the valves are most likely different.

In addition, we may not have orifice information on grills that are private labeled or purchased at big box stores. This is because the parts supplied by aftermarket manufacturers do not include what orifice is in the grill. They traditionally do not supply alot when it comes to orifices. There are a select amount of blank orifices. 

If you are looking for a blank orifice you will have to identify your orifice diameter and thread pattern and choose one from the options we have. It is much safer and convenient to contact the manufacturer to see if they supply conversion kits. 

Now more on Weber. Brands like Weber and Napoleon do not permit converting their grills. Many people think it is because they want you to buy a new grill. This is simply not true. It is 100 percent because of the liability that goes with gas conversions. There have been a number of lawsuits where people have been injured converting their grills and have been injured in the process. Manufacturers cannot control if the consumer is hiring a licensed professional. If they decided to increase their liability coverage, this increased cost would have to be passed on to the grills or replacement parts. 

When purchasing one of these brands (or any other brand that does not have conversion kits), we would suggest purchasing a propane model. 

Many brands that offer conversion kits include Alfresco, Delta Heat, MHP, Sedona by Lynx, Solaire, TEC, Twin Eagles, and Viking. Some brands like Summerset offer orifices and not kits.

If it is not a brand we carry, you will need to contact the manufacturer of your grill (especially if purchased at a big box store) to purchase a conversion kit to make this process run much more smoothly. The kit should contain everything you’ll need — generally orifices to convert all the burners and as well as a appliance regulator if using natural gas or a bulk propane tank.

A conversion kit must match the exact brand and model grill you own. For example, if you own a Lynx Grill, you will need to buy a Lynx conversion kit for your model and year.

If grill conversion is something you’re looking to do, here’s some information before you get started. If you have questions about whether or not your grill can be converted, contact us and we’ll help you figure it out.

Difference between Propane and Natural Gas

Let’s first discuss the difference between Propane and Natural Gas.

The biggest difference is Natural Gas is piped gas where Propane is Bottled Gas. That bottle can be portable like the typical BBQ 20lb Tank or can be in a bulk tank that is above ground or buried.

Propane, also known as LP, LPG, is an approved clean green burning fuel. It is pretty much odorless, nontoxic and colorless. An odor is added so it can be detected by smell. It is a compressed gas that is stored as a liquid. Propane is a popular gas choice because it is clean burning (reduces greenhouse gas), reliable, abundant in resource and provides our country with tens of thousands of jobs.

Natural gas is also a clean burning fuel. The lines are taken from the ground and have offer continuous supply of gas (provided you’ve paid your bill, of course).

Despite what some people think, there is not a grill performance difference between these gas types.

Converting a Propane Grill to Natural Gas

In order to convert your grill to natural gas, you must have natural gas piped in your neighborhood. You will have to have your utility company or contractor run a line to your patio (or wherever you’re putting your grill).

Natural Gas is a lower pressured Gas so if you were to hook up your propane grill to your natural gas line, you will have a lot less gas flow. The orifice hole size is visually larger on natural gas than propane.

One of the benefits of switching from propane — often referred to as liquid propane, or LP — to natural gas is that you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel in the middle of grilling your meal. Most propane grill owners will keep a spare tank around, but sometimes you don’t realize how low your tank is, or you just haven’t had the opportunity to pick a new one up.

Before you commit to converting your propane gas grill into a natural gas grill, be sure to double check your manufacturer’s recommendations and owner’s manual.

As more extreme weather becomes more common, natural gas generators that can power an entire house are in greater demand. If you’ve invested in a whole-house generator, it may make sense for you to hook your gas grill up to it, as well. 

If you cannot find orifices or a conversion kit for your grill do not give up! When it comes to converting from Propane to Natural Gas, you can hire a tech to drill the existing orifices. This is because Natural Gas will have a larger hole. You will need an appliance regulator and most likely fittings to adapt to your hose size. Keep in mind, once you have drilled these orifices, you cannot go back smaller. So you will be stuck.

Converting a Natural Gas Grill to Propane

A common reason that someone might want to convert their natural gas grill to a propane grill may be that they’ve moved to an area where there is no natural gas.

Propane is a higher pressured gas than natural gas. Therefore, the orifice drill size will be substantially smaller than a natural gas orifice.

You definitely do NOT want to hook up a Natural Gas Grill to a LP tank. You will have way too much gas flowing through the orifice and can be potentially dangerous.

Using manufacturers conversion kits is a safer and more convenient method than piecing together the parts. Making sure you have the correct sized fittings, hoses, and orifices can be a pain, but the premade kits will take care of all that work for you.

If a conversion kit is available for your grill, be sure to ask your installer to give you the natural gas orifices back in the event you want to convert it back.

If a conversion kit is not available for your grill model, there may be blank orifices that will have a starter hole. These orifices must be drilled by a licensed professional. This is because it is a special gauging drill that is used to drill the hole. They are not meant to be drilled with an electric tool as brass is soft and you do not want to compromise the orifice.

Converting a Gas Grill to Charcoal

Converting a gas grill to charcoal isn’t as common as switching between the two types of gases, but it’s not unheard of. Some people claim that there’s a taste difference between each cooking fuel, and they like the taste made from charcoal the best. We have even heard some customers say they hate cooking with gas but love their grill and want to gut it and make it a charcoal grill. If the grill firebox and body is in good shape, it may be a great cost-effective choice.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before starting.

Charcoal grills are relatively simple — you have a metal body (which cannot contain rust, so inspect it closely), a bottom grate to hold the briquettes, and a top grate to hold the food being cooked. You never want to just put charcoal in the bottom of the grill’s firebox without a grate as the heat can severely damage the firebox.

The challenge will be finding grates that fit your grill. So, if this is something you’re interested in, go ahead and check out the rock grates we have. If you do not see a size you are looking for, you may want to check out your local hardware store to see if they offer a diamond grate that can be custom cut.

One of the most important things to consider in this case also is that your gas components are safely stored or disposed of. If your propane tank still has liquid propane left in it, make sure that it’s stored safely so it doesn’t present a fire hazard. If your natural gas connection will need to be shut off, it may be a good idea to call your local provider to ask about doing so safely. We generally do not recommend converting your gas grill into a charcoal grill but we know many people out there do it.

Choose American-Made for Flexibility

We sell a lot of different brands at BBQ Depot that are both foreign and domestic. We’d never try to dissuade our customers from buying grills made overseas, but we can’t deny that there are some upsides to buying American-made grills.

As it relates to grill conversion — whether it be liquid propane to natural gas or charcoal — it’s a combination of a few different factors.

First of all, many imported grills today use Flame-thrower valves. These valves actually have two orifices. One that the burner goes over and another super small orifice at the base of the ignition tube that is attached to the valve. This is because these valves actually use gas to light the grills. Many times, the entire valve will need to be changed since the orifice used to ignite the grill cannot be changed.

If your grill and its components are made overseas, there is a possibility that a conversion kit will not be attainable. When you see a conversion kit being sold at big box stores, this is not a real conversion kit. It is very misleading since will not get orifices in this kit.

Second, imported grills are often restricted by minimum order quantities (MOQs). This could mean that they may pass on ordering conversion kits if the MOQ does not justify potential demand for it.

And finally — at least for the time being — getting anything imported is more complicated than it used to be. With the supply chain still struggling to rebound, we tell everyone requesting foreign-made products to expect significant delays at this point.

If the timeline isn’t a major issue for you, then perhaps it doesn’t matter whether the grill you purchase is made here or across the pond. But if you’re looking for future flexibility and quicker turnaround times on orders, we’d highly recommend American-made grills or purchasing a Propane Grill.

We can help point you in that direction, should you choose it. It’s not always self-explanatory where grills are made, and some are made both here and overseas.

Need Advice on Converting Your Grill?

While many people choose to do this on your own, we absolutely recommend hiring a licensed professional in your area to perform this as there is a potential for injury. If you choose to do it yourself, be sure you have a pipe stick, yellow tape (NOT WHITE as it is for water) or gas pipe sealant and use it on ALL pipe fittings and leak test all valves.

Our technicians are more than qualified to convert your grill from propane to natural gas, or vice versa, etc. This is a service we offer locally — in fact, our local customers often take advantage of our repair services.

Remember that upkeep and regular maintenance can make your grill last as long as possible. Regardless of your preferred fuel, grills need to be cleaned and checked for damage and leaks on a frequent basis.

Given that grills live outside, they are exposed to more drastic weather changes and temperature swings than any appliance that stays inside. It’s entirely possible that they’ll sustain damage you don’t notice at first glance. Because you’re literally dealing with fire, a poorly maintained grill can be quite dangerous.

If you live near our showroom, we’d love to meet you in person. We’re open six days a week for your convenience. Additionally, you’re always welcome to call us at (877)-983-0451 or email us. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

by Tracy Hollander on 3rd Aug 2021
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